The Radio-Active Appliance
By Douglas G. Richards
[Note: The following article appeared in the
March/April, 1996 (Volume 12, No. 2) issue of Venture Inward.
Douglas G. Richards, Ph.D., is research director at Meridian Institute,
an instructor at Atlantic University, and co-author of The Radial Appliance
and Wet Cell Battery.]
Two summers ago I hooked up to my first "radio-active"
(or "radial") appliance, hopeful that this simple device recommended by
the Edgar Cayce readings would stimulate the healing and balancing process
in my body. I hadn't been sleeping well and did not want to take
any medications. I also had had cold feet for a long time, and was
curious about whether the appliance could help.
The Cayce readings, which describe the body as
a holistic system that needs balancing to promote self-healing, recommended
the radio-active appliance over 900 times, often for equalizing circulation
and relaxing the nervous system. "The radio-active appliance is good
for everyone, and especially for those that tire or need an equalizing
of circulation," says reading 826-3.
My condition was addressed in reading 326-1: "This
will relieve that tendency of cold feet, that tendency of the poor circulation
in the extremities." And reading 2305-1 said, "Use this whenever tired
or when desiring to sleep well."
My personal research eventually grew into an in-depth
project at Meridian Institute, a non-profit research organization that
is scientifically exploring the Cayce health readings under the auspices
of Atlantic University and the A.R.E.
The readings said the radio-active appliance acted
like a "radio magnet." That was in the 1920s before people associated "radio-active"
with the dangers of atomic energy. It actually contains no radioactivity,
and now is often called the radial appliance, for its radial attachments
to the body, or the impedance device, for its electrical properties.
The appliance looks like a battery, but produces
no electricity of its own. It is simply constructed - a metal can, with
two pieces of steel and glass inside, surrounded by carbon blocks, and
packed in charcoal. The steel contains a high percentage of carbon.
Wires that plug into the top of the can are attached to the wrists and
ankles by Velcro straps. The appliance is activated by placing it
in ice water.
Its purpose is to balance the body's own electricity.
The Cayce readings generally recommend that it be used for about an hour
in the evenings, while meditating.
Could such a simple device produce the effects
described in the Cayce readings? To find out, David McMillin and
I researched the history of electrical medicine. One of the founders
of Meridian Institute, David has written several books on the Cayce health
readings concerning mental health, and he and I had worked together on
a book on the Cayce appliances (The Radial Appliance and Wet Cell Battery,
available from the A.R.E. Bookstore - 804-428-3588, ext. 231).
We found that over the years electricity has
been used in many ways to influence the body. For example, orthopedic
surgeon Robert Becker found that very small electrical currents stimulate
wound and bone healing. Much larger electrical currents are used
in the treatment of depression.
Searching for devices based on such principles,
we discovered that Leon E. Eeman, a researcher in Cayce's day, had recommended
the Eeman Biocircuit, a device similar to the radio-active appliance, and
had written a book in 1947, Co-operative Healing, documenting his exploration
of the natural healing electricity produced by the human body. His
little-known device was tested in a controlled study by researchers Julian
Isaacs and Terry Patten (see the 1991 Subtle Energies journal), and found
to produce relaxation and other measurable effects.
The A.R.E. Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona has done
exploratory research which showed that the radio-active appliance had some
effect on a blood chemical, dopamine, which is associated with relaxation
(see Venture Inward May/June '89).
Recognizing that electrical effects on the human
body had been demonstrated in these studies, I decided to try using the
appliance, not sure what I was supposed to feel because the readings said,
"Nothing will be felt, but you will feel better after this has been used
a few days." (1842-3)
The first night I didn't feel a thing. My
hands and feet were still cold, and I didn't sleep any better. The
second night, I still didn't notice a change. The most I could say
was that this was a good opportunity to meditate for an hour. But
on the third night, something strange happened. When I went to bed
after using the appliance, my entire body felt cold, so cold that I put
on blankets and a hooded sweatshirt in July - but I had the best night's
sleep that I had had in months! Over the next several nights, my
body warmed up, and I was still sleeping well.
I repeated the experiment the following November,
after four months of not using the appliance, with a digital thermometer
to measure the temperatures of my hands and feet. This time, at the
beginning, I had a 22-degree difference between my hands and feet.
After a few days of using the appliance, my feet had warmed up and there
was only a 3-degree difference! I decided to keep using the appliance
the rest of the winter.
For years my feet had been so cold that I went
to bed all winter long wearing socks. Now, I no longer needed socks,
and my wife commented that my feet felt normal to her ("toasty warm," in
fact), no longer like they had been in the refrigerator.
This positive result was enough to convince me
to keep using the appliance - another successful personal test of the Cayce
readings. But as the scientist, I wanted to know whether this device
really worked, or whether it was my own wishful thinking. And I wanted
to know whether I was a rare case, or whether it would be similarly useful
At Meridian Institute, we designed a controlled,
scientific study to determine its effects on temperature. A Texas
foundation, the Morrison Trust, funded the project. Tom Dewey, a
supplier in Virginia Beach, built the appliances we tested. We chose
30 volunteer participants from the local community. Half were given
working appliances. The other half - the control group - received
appliances that were not connected. We performed the experiment double-blind:
neither the participants nor the experimenters knew who had working appliances.
Only at the end of the experiment would they find out which was which.
The reason for this double-blind control procedure is that we knew that
belief alone can often produce strong healing results. We wanted
to learn what the appliance could accomplish beyond simple belief in healing.
This is the same research procedure used to evaluate the effectiveness
of new drugs.
Each participant was asked to use the appliance
as Cayce instructed for 16 sessions - 1 hour each evening at home.
We measured the temperatures of their hands and feet three times - once
before they began the experiment, once after a week of use, and at the
end of the 16 sessions. We also asked about their relaxation during
the sessions and any improvement in their sleeping habits.
As the project unfolded, we noted some impressive
changes. When I shook hands with "Robert," a 22-year-old student,
on his first visit to the laboratory, I knew we had an excellent subject.
His hands were like ice, and he told me they had been that way for years.
He was eager to try anything that could help him warm his hands.
On his second visit, when we shook hands, his hand was hot. After
less than a week of using the appliance, his hand temperature had gone
up over 20 degrees!
"Andrea," a 39-year-old teacher, began the project
with colds hands and feet, and was having a lot of trouble sleeping.
She would awaken during the night, thinking incessantly, unable to rest.
This was the sort of person that reading 1800-16 recommended the appliance
for when it said: "This would be good for anyone, see? especially to rest
tired businessmen, overtaxed ladies - there are a few!"
When Andrea returned for her second measurement
in the lab, her hands were still cool, but her feet were 6.6 degrees warmer.
On her third visit to the lab, a month later, she remarked at how much
easier it now was to get back to sleep in the middle of the night, and
her feet were now 1 0 degrees warmer. A few months later, in a cold,
air-conditioned theater, she recalled how she used to wear a coat to the
movies, even in the summer. Now, she was comfortable in a tank top.
And whenever she had trouble sleeping, she just used the appliance a few
times to resolve the problem.
While Robert and Andrea showed impressive increases
in their hand or foot temperatures, some people showed no change, or even
a decrease. But we didn't know who actually had the working appliances
until the end of the project.
When we finally found out, the overall results
were a little surprising. We were happy to discover that Robert and
Andrea had used working appliances. We found a statistically significant
difference between the group with the working appliances and the control
group. (Statistical significance is a measure of whether the result differs
from random chance.) At the end of the first week, the group with the working
appliances on the average had a hand/foot temperature difference significantly
warmer (5.1 degrees) than the control group. But by the end of the
16 sessions, the results were less clear. The temperature differences,
while higher, were not great enough to be statistically significant.
With such promising results at the end of the
first week, why weren't they significant after 16 sessions? Positive
results, I believe, depended on how consistently the appliance was used
by each participant. The instructions had been to use the appliance
16 times, once each day, for 16 days. Realizing that sometimes people
would have to skip a day or two, we had set a maximum of a month to complete
16 sessions. But only half the participants actually completed their
sessions within the month. Many either had events interfere, or simply
forgot to use the appliance often enough to fulfill our objective.
We found that consistency in using the appliance was clearly related to
how strong the effect was. The best results came from using the appliance
every night. Less than four times a week produced little effect.
In hindsight, we might wish we had been stricter
in pushing people to use the appliance consistently, for the readings emphasized
the importance of "consistency and persistency" to achieve any real healing.
But had everyone cooperated this well, we would never have learned how
important this principle really is. Now we have good reason to advise
people to use the appliance every night if they want the best results.
(The readings also usually suggest several days' break after every few
weeks of use.)
We also learned a little about the placebo effect.
It is recognized in medical circles that just believing you have taken
a medication, even when it is only a sugar pill (known as a placebo), may
often cure a disease. As Cayce said, "Mind is the builder.
The physical is the result." We noted the same effect in our study.
Several people with disconnected appliances had substantial hand warming.
Separating this result from the actual effect of the appliance is the reason
we needed a control group.
As an example, "Evelyn," a 44-year-old office
worker, began the project with very cold hands. She felt uncomfortable
even in a normally air-conditioned room. During her first session,
she told me that she had previously tried biofeedback to warm her hands.
In biofeedback, one learns to control hand temperature from watching a
thermometer - a skill, once learned, you probably never forget. She
was also an experienced meditator, adept at achieving a relaxed state,
and often practiced it to warm herself in cold rooms. Although she
was in the control group, by her second session, her hand temperature had
increased from the mid-70s to the low 90s. During her nightly sessions
on the (disconnected) appliance, she was practicing the relaxation skills
she had previously learned. In short, the Cayce appliance is not
the only way to relax the nervous system and warm the hands.
Is the appliance a cure-all? It appears
as part of the Cayce treatment for a large variety of conditions.
Many people wish for a magic appliance that can heal them of any disease.
But the Cayce readings typically recommended this appliance, not as a cure,
but as an aid to balance and rest, and as an element of more complete treatments
aimed at the ailments of specific individuals. In our study, several
people seemed to be helped quite a lot; others showed little effect.
There is certainly more research to do before we fully understand the potential
of the appliance, and can identify the people for whom it will be most
Some of the effects may not be as easily detected
and measured as temperature changes, for reading 1158-11 says "the vibrations
created by [the appliance] are not curatives - these are equalizers.
If the body is tired, if the body grows weary, mentally or physically,
this will be found to be most beneficial - it is for any body."
We still don't understand the physical principles
underlying these effects. It appears to make a simple electrical
connection between the wrist on one side of the body and the ankle on the
opposite side. The A.R.E. Clinic researchers speculated that it might
have something to do with the acupuncture points of Chinese medicine.
But the Cayce readings emphasized the importance not only of good electrical
connections, but of using steel with high carbon content, and cooling the
appliance in ice water to activate it. Although the readings often
talk about vibrations, Cayce was not explicit in explaining how the device
Researchers in energy medicine recognize the potential
in such devices, but still lack sufficient data to theorize about how they
work. For now, the challenge is to confirm that the appliance actually
does work, and learn more about its effects and the people who respond
best to it. As reading 180028 said, back in 1936: "In those experimentations
of the radio-active appliance: Not near sufficient experimentation has
been given these products."
At Meridian Institute we are working to overcome